NEW CASTLE —
Marcia Rudley can’t help but smile when she remembers the glory days of Long Avenue.
“It was booming,” the one-time New Castle High teacher recalled from her childhood memories. “There were so many stores. We had everything – grocery stories, the theater, the little restaurants.
“It was just people everywhere.”
Now, one of the last legacies of that era is about to disappear. Jimm’s Department Store, which opened nearly nine decades ago at 109 E. Long Ave. and for the past five years has been in Westgate Plaza, is about to close its doors, perhaps as soon as the end of October.
Rudley, the third generation of the Jimm family to own and operate the business, is moving with her husband to Texas to be nearer her son and brand-new granddaughter.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said of the impending move. “The store has been in my blood all my life. I remember my mother saying that she was a baby when the store opened, and she would have been 89 this year.”
Jimm’s was founded by Rudley’s grandparents, who would walk the neighborhood with their wares to make a sale.
“Their firstborn was my Aunt Jenny,” Rudley noted. “She got in a car, put the clothes in with her, and she would go around and sell that way. She had quite a clientele from all around.
“A lot of people still know the store today as Jenny Jimm’s, even though she’s been gone a long time.”
Jenny’s sisters, Josephine and Norma (Rudley’s mother) also worked in the store, and it was Josephine who owned it when Rudley moved back to the area after teaching school for four years in Florida.
“She had a stroke,” Rudley explained, “and when she passed, she gave me the store to run.”
Rudley had been doing some substitute teaching at the time, but said it wasn’t a difficult decision to give up her classroom career altogether and return to Jimm’s.
“It was a family tradition,” she said. “I was born and raised in that store. I’d been waiting on customers since I was yay high.”